Supporting Teacher Understanding of Emergent Computational Thinking in Early Elementary Students

This project explores how to help teachers identify and support early elementary children’s emergent computational thinking. The project will engage researchers, professional development providers, and early elementary teachers (K-2) in a collaborative research and development process to design a scalable professional development experience for grade K-2 teachers. The project will field test and conduct research on the artifacts, facilitation strategies, and modes of interaction that effectively prepare K-2 teachers to learn about their students’ emergent use of computational thinking strategies.

Full Description: 

There is an increasing focus and interest in teaching computer science and computational thinking in early elementary school. The project will engage researchers, professional development providers, and early elementary teachers (K-2) in a collaborative research and development process to design a scalable professional development experience for grade K-2 teachers. The project will field test and conduct research on the artifacts, facilitation strategies, and modes of interaction that effectively prepare K-2 teachers to learn about their students’ emergent use of computational thinking strategies. The teachers will collaborate using an online platform for sharing resources, and the project will also study how the online platform can help to reach and support more teachers. The teachers’ learning will be supported by instructional coaches who will help the teachers to integrate computer science into their teaching, and to interpret evidence of their students’ understanding of computational thinking.

The project explores how to help teachers identify and support early elementary children’s emergent computational thinking. The professional learning model for teachers includes a community of practice supported by an online platform and a coach with expertise in computational thinking. The work leverages models for professional development in early grades mathematics. The project focuses on creating systems and conditions for scalable professional learning including coherence, coaching, teacher networks, and engagement with school and district leadership. The research questions are: (1) What kind of professional development and guidance do teachers need to identify and support emergent computational thinking development in young students’ language and work process? (2) What kind of professional development and guidance do teachers need to identify emergent computational thinking development in young students’ work products? (3) How can a scalable professional learning system help teachers understand the development of emergent computational thinking in K-2 students? The teachers will develop lessons, use them with students, and reflect about their work with the coach and the other teachers in their community of practice. The data collection and analysis include interviews, surveys, observations, and documentation from the online platform to understand teachers’ professional learning and development.

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